De-Suung embezzlement case hearing begins 

In the first opening session of the De-Suung embezzlement case yesterday at Bench III of the Thimphu High Court, one of the appellants, Lieutenant Colonel Ugyen Norbu, submitted to the court that the whole problem of mismanagement came up because of the absence of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

“I raised the need for a SOP and the Commandant asked me to draft one, but later when it was done it was not implemented despite repeated requests,” he explained to the court.

Ugyen Norbu, breaking down in tears, also narrated before the judges how his superiors have allegedly mistreated and harassed him.

“During the trial, I lost both my parents. I could not attend the 14th day ritual of my late mother as I was summoned to the military court despite my repeated requests. I also went to a state that I could not mourn for my dead parents properly. I had admitted to doing adjustments in the bills, but there are other charges on me that I didn’t do,” he told the judges. .

Ugyen Norbu also informed the court that the military court did not conduct the closing hearing and cross examination of the witnesses or their superiors given the fact that it being one of the important aspects of the court hearings.

‘When I was appointed, the administrative officer of the programme proposed that those who were managing and working in the mess and procurement since 2011 need to be replaced immediately to create a better system. The suggestion was ignored,” he told the court, appealing the court to summon his superiors for cross examination on numerous issues which the military court failed to do.

In the next hearing yesterday, another appellant, Major Cigay Tshewang, made his submission to the court stating that the military court could not establish the facts beyond reasonable doubt.

“The sentence pronounced against us was as if those involved had intended to commit the offences deliberately and the court only considered the ACC’s findings which were collected under coercion,” the Major told the judges.

According to the Major’s submission to the court, the documents produced to the court were not accepted and acknowledged either, and with the verdict passed by the military court not being clear, they had to appeal to the High Court.

Another appellant, Peljab Nim Gyeltshen told the court that they work based on the orders of their officers and they do not have the authority to work on our own.

“But the verdict passed was as if I have committed the offence on my own. Also, we were not given the right to access a jabmi (defense lawyer) as we were told to get one from the army. The verdict was passed as if I have committed the crime on my own,” Peljab Nim Gyeltshen informed the judges.

Meanwhile, the second hearing date for both the hearings has been scheduled on February 26 this year.

Around 40 people comprising 15 army officers, nine NCO’s (Non Commissioned Officer) and 16 shopkeepers are involved in embezzlement case worth around Nu 11mn in relation to the De-Suung Training Programmes conducted by the Office of the De-Suung. The military Court passed its verdict in December last year where they were charged for embezzlement, aiding and abetting, while the shopkeepers were charged for solicitation.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu